1968

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS

OVERVIEWS & CHRONOLOGIES: 1968

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

OVERVIEW

Election Year: 1968

Election Day Date: November 5, 1968

Winning Ticket:

  • Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Republican 31,783,783 43.42% 301 55.9%

Losing Ticket(s):

  • Hubert Humphrey, Edmund Muskie, Democratic 31,271,839 42.72% 191 35.5%
  • George Wallace, Curtis LeMay American Ind. 9,901,118 13.53% 46 8.6%
  • Other (+) – – 243,258 0.33% 0 0.0%

Voter Turnout:

  • Total VAP 120,328,186
  • Total REG 81,660,786
  • Total Vote 73,199,998
  • %VAP 60.8%
  • % REG 89.6%

Central Forums/Campaign Methods for Addressing Voters:

Speaking tours, rallies, radio, print television ads, heavy reliance on television

Election Law/Campaign Finance Changes:

Incumbent President and Vice President on Election Day:

Lyndon Baines Johnson, Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Democratic, 1963-1969

Population: 1968: 200,745,000

Nominal GDP (billions of dollars): $909.8 Real GDP (billions of 2005 dollars): $4,133.4 GDP Deflator (index 2005=100%): 22.01 Population (in thousands): 200,745
Nominal GDP per capita (current dollars): $4,532 Real GDP per capita (year 2005 dollars): $20,590

Number of Daily Newspapers: 1,748 (1970)

Average Daily Circulation: 62,108,000 (1970)

Households with:

  • Radio 46,108,000 (1970)
  • Television 60,594,000 (1970)

Method of Choosing Electors: Popular vote (mostly General Ticket/Winner Take All)

Method of Choosing Nominees:

  • National party convention;
  • Presidential preference primaries

Central Issues:

  • Vietnam War; Assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy; “runaway inflation,” urban riots; college demonstrations/protests; political polarization

Leading Candidates (Nomination/Primaries):

Republican Party candidates:

Presidential:

  • Richard M. Nixon, former Vice President and 1960 presidential nominee (California)
  • Nelson A. Rockefeller, Governor of New York and candidate for the 1960 and 1964 nominations
  • Ronald W. Reagan, Governor of California
  • George W. Romney, Governor of Michigan and candidate 1964 nomination
  • Harold E. Stassen, former Governor of Minnesota and candidate for the 1948, 1952 and 1964 nominations

Vice-Presidential :

  • Spiro T. Agnew, Governor of Maryland
  • Edward W. Brooke, U.S. senator from Massachusetts
  • George H.W. Bush, U.S. representative from Texas
  • David F. Cargo, Governor of New Mexico
  • John Chafee, Governor of Rhode Island
  • Daniel J. Evans, Governor of Washington
  • Robert H. Finch, Lieutenant Governor of California
  • Mark O. Hatfield, U.S. senator from Oregon
  • Jacob K. Javits, U.S. senator from New York
  • Warren P. Knowles, Governor of Wisconsin
  • John V. Lindsay, Mayor of New York City, New York
  • John A. Love, Governor of Colorado
  • Rogers C.B. Morton, U.S. representative from Maryland
  • Charles H. Percy, U.S. senator from Illinois
  • Ronald W. Reagan, Governor of California
  • James A. Rhodes, Governor of Ohio
  • Nelson A. Rockefeller, Governor of New York
  • George W. Romney, Governor of Michigan
  • John G. Tower, U.S. senator from Texas
  • John A. Volpe, Governor of Massachusetts

Democratic Party candidates

  • Hubert H. Humphrey, U.S. Vice President (Minnesota)
  • Robert F. Kennedy, U.S. senator from New York and former Attorney General (assassinated)
  • Eugene J. McCarthy, U.S. senator from Minnesota
  • George S. McGovern, U.S. senator from South Dakota
  • Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the United States (Texas)

Main Controversies (Nomination/Primaries):

  • Vietnam War; Lyndon’s Johnson’s unpopular presidency, Johnson’s surprise withdrawal from the campaign

Campaign Innovations (Nomination/Primaries):

Major Personalities (Nomination/Primaries):

Ronald Reagan; George Romney; Nelson Rockefeller; Lyndon Johnson, Robert F. Kennedy, Eugene McCarthy

Turning Points (Nomination/Primaries):

Republican Party:

  • George Romney: Early front-runner, Mormonism and support for the Vietnam War, claimed “originally supported Johnson’s Vietnam policy because he had been “brainwashed” by government briefing officers.” Withdrew in February 1968 because of public ridicule, and public fear of his religion
  • Richard Nixon since his 1962 defeat for the California governorship, gained support and friendships with Republican party leaders, campaigned in the 1966 mid-term elections for Republican candidates, became the front-runner, winning all the early primaries
  • Nelson Rockefeller announced in a March 1968 press conference he would not run and after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination announced his candidacy
  • Ronald Reagan, the conservative candidate did not commit to running beyond a favorite son campaign until April 1968
  • However, Rockefeller and Reagan entered the race too late, Nixon accumulated enough delegate support to clinch the nomination on the first ballot

Democratic Party:

  • Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy entered the race to challenge President Johnson for the nomination; critic of the Vietnam War, with youth support and volunteers; “Children’s Crusade”. Almost won the New Hampshire against Johnson in an upset
  • New York Senator Robert Kennedy entered the Presidential race four days after the New Hampshire primary in opposition to Vietnam and Johnson, but in “in harmony with McCarthy”
  • On March, 1968, Lyndon Johnson announcement at the end of a televised address that he was not seeking renomination
  • Hubert Humphrey decided to enter the race for the nomination “the politics of joy”, he was too late to enter the primary and gathered delegate support from “behind the scenes”; Johnson helped Humphrey garner the delegates for the nomination
  • Eugene McCarthy won the crucial Oregon primary
  • Robert Kennedy won the Indiana, Nebraska and decisive California primary before he was assassinated after the primary results came in

Primaries Quotations:

  • “The new circumstances that confront the nation. I frankly find that to comment from the sidelines is not an effective way to present the alternatives.” Nelson Rockefeller announcing his candidacy to run for the Republican nomination after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., April 1968
  • “My candidacy would not be in opposition to his, but in harmony.” Robert F. Kennedy announcing his candidacy to run for the Democratic nomination
  • “I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term.” President Lyndon Johnson

Primaries:

  • Democratic 15 40.2% delegates
  • Republican 15 38% delegates

Primaries Results:

Republican Party: Jun 11, 1968

  • Ronald Wilson Reagan: 1,696,632, 37.93%
  • Richard Milhous Nixon: 1,679,443, 37.54%
  • James A. Rhodes: 614,492, 13.74%
  • Nelson A. Rockefeller: 164,340, 3.67%
  • Unpledged: 140,639, 3.14%

Democratic Party: Jun 11, 1968

  • Eugene J. McCarthy: 2,914,933, 38.73%
  • Robert Francis Kennedy: 2,305,148, 30.63%
  • Stephen M. Young: 549,140, 7.30%
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson(I): 383,590, 5.10%
  • Thomas C. Lynch: 380,286, 5.05%
  • Roger D. Branigin: 238,700, 3.17%
  • George A. Smathers: 236,242, 3.14%
  • Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Jr.: 166,463, 2.21%
  • Unpledged: 161,143, 2.14%

Delegate Count (prior to Robert Kennedy’s assassination)

  • Hubert Humphrey 561
  • Robert F. Kennedy 393
  • Eugene McCarthy 258

Total popular vote:

  • Eugene McCarthy: 2,914,933 (38.73%)
  • Robert F. Kennedy: 2,305,148 (30.63%)
  • Stephen M. Young: 549,140 (7.30%)
  • Lyndon B. Johnson: 383,590 (5.10%)
  • Thomas C. Lynch: 380,286 (5.05%)
  • Roger D. Branigin: 238,700 (3.17%)
  • George Smathers: 236,242 (3.14%)
  • Hubert Humphrey: 166,463 (2.21%)
  • Unpledged: 161,143 (2.14%)
  • Scott Kelly: 128,899 (1.71%)
  • George Wallace: 34,489 (0.46%)
  • Richard Nixon (write-in): 13,610 (0.18%)
  • Ronald Reagan (write-in): 5,309 (0.07%)
  • Ted Kennedy: 4,052 (0.05%)
  • Paul C. Fisher: 506 (0.01%)
  • John G. Crommelin: 186 (0.00%)

Conventions (Dates & Locations):

  • Republican National Convention: August 5-8, 1968, Convention Center; Miami Beach, 1st ballot, Richard M. Nixon (California), Spiro T. Agnew (Maryland)
  • Democratic National Convention: August 26-29, 1968, International Amphitheatre; Chicago, Carl Albert (Oklahoma), 1st ballot, Hubert Humphrey (Minnesota), Edmund S. Muskie (Maine)

Convention Turning Points:

Republican Party:

  • Nixon won the nomination on the first ballot against Nelson Rockefeller and Ronald Reagan
  • Nixon chose Governor Spiro T. Agnew of Maryland, unknown (“Spiro Who?”) as his running mate, appeal to the border states and Deep South
  • Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, the first African-American Senator elected as convention temporary chairman
  • Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy’s (president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) the Poor People’s Campaign demonstrated outside the convention hall.

Democratic Party:

  • Party leaders supported Hubert Humphrey’s nomination
  • McCarthy lost interest in the nomination after Kennedy’s assassination
  • McCarthy supporters backed South Dakota Senator George McGovern
  • Kennedy supporters wanted to draft his brother, Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, who did not want to be drafted so soon after his brother’s death
  • National Mobilization Committee To End the War in Viet Nam, Antiwar protesters at the Chicago conventions; Bloody Wednesday, protests outside the convention hall developed in a confrontation with police, violence erupted
  • Divisions between hawks and doves in the party; fights over delegate credentials; fights close to anarchy over procedure and platform votes; walk-outs
  • Debate over the platform and the nomination process, especially the “unit rule” where the majority of the delegates determined the entire vote of a delegation;  McCarthy supporters wanted this century old rule abolished, denies minorities a voice; Humphrey had supported the concept, motion approved to abolish it. Allowed a few Southern delegations whose credentials were questioned to be seated including voting rights activist and civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer Mississippi Democratic loyalist group
  • Connecticut Senator Abraham Ribicoff was heckled throughout his speech after condemning the Chicago police’s actions against the protesters
  • Thursday night, after a Robert Kennedy memorial film was shown, Daley supporters chanted, “We love Mayor Daley!” delegates on the convention floor sang the “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Convention Quotations:

  • “Like my three brothers before me, I pick up a fallen standard.” Edward Kennedy
  • “Gestapo tactics on the streets of Chicago.” Connecticut Senator Abraham Ribicoff condemned
  • “Thousands of young people are being beaten on the streets of Chicago! I move this convention be adjourned for two weeks and moved to another city.” Wisconsin Democratic delegate

Number of Ballots to Choose Nominees:

Republican Party Nomination:

Presidential 1st Ballot  (after switches)

  • Richard M. Nixon       692      1238
  • Nelson Rockefeller     277      93
  • Ronald Reagan           182      2
  • Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes       55        —
  • Michigan Governor George Romney 50        —
  • New Jersey Senator Clifford Case     22        —
  • Kansas Senator Frank Carlson            20        —
  • Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller     18        —        —
  • Hawaii Senator Hiram Fong   14        —        —
  • Harold Stassen            2          —
  • New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay        1          —        —

Vice Presidential 1st Ballot

  • Spiro T. Agnew           1119
  • George Romney          186
  • John V. Lindsay          10
  • Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke         1
  • James A. Rhodes        1
  • Not Voting      16

Democratic Party Nomination:

Presidential 1st Ballot

  • Hubert Humphrey       1759.25
  • Eugene McCarthy       601
  • George S. McGovern
  • Channing Phillips        67.5
  • Daniel K. Moore         17.5
  • Edward M. Kennedy 12.75
  • Paul W. “Bear” Bryant            1.5
  • James H. Gray             0.5
  • George Wallace           0.5

Vice Presidential 1st Ballot

  • Edmund S. Muskie     1942.5
  • Not Voting      604.25
  • 146.5   Julian Bond     48.5
  • David Hoeh    4
  • Edward M. Kennedy 3.5
  • Eugene McCarthy       3.0
  • Others             16.25

Convention Keynote Speaker:

Nominating Speech Speakers (President):

Party Platform/Issues:

  • Republican Party:  End “crisis in the cities” “law and order”, honorable negotiated peace. “a fair and equitable settlement” of the war in Vietnam; “progressive de-Americanization” Vietnamization of the Vietnam War opposition to busing a means to desegregation; Supreme Court justices who take an less active role in policy creation (reference to civil rights/liberties); slow Democratic/Great Society social programs; reduced taxes; end the draft (would end anti war movement youth protests if they would not have to be forced to be drafted)

Democratic Party:

  • Great Society continuation, expansion social welfare programs; crime, gun control, housing, welfare reform “War on Poverty”; civil rights and civil liberties; foreign policy, constrained opposition to the Vietnam War;
  • The doves, McCarthy and his supporters wanted an unconditional halt to the bombings; McCarthy and McGovern drafted a minority plank on the issue. The debate lasted two days. Final roll call vote defeated the plank (1, 567 ¾ to 1,041 ¼.) Humphrey and party leaders followed Johnson’s wishes and included rejected unilateral withdrawal, the bombings would cease only with two conditions, “when this action would not endanger the lives of our troops in the field,” take into account the response from Hanoi.”
  • Doves responded by putting on black armbands and singing the civil-rights song, “We Shall Overcome.”

Third Party Candidates & Nominations:

American Independent party:

  • Presidential; Former Alabama Governor George Wallace
  • Wallace known for defying federal college desegregation orders in Alabama; formed the party and appealed to Middle America.
  • His supporters/organizers worked to get his name on the ballot in all 50 states.
  • He wanted to prevent an electoral majority; Accused of promoting racism segregation in his campaign

General Election Controversies/Issues: Vietnam War; law and order; desegregation

Campaign Innovations (General Election): 

  • Heavy reliance on television; Nixon aired question and answer sessions on television
  • Pat Nixon campaigned for her husband at Press Conferences and TV interviews

Major Personalities (General Election): 

Lyndon Johnson; Silent majority; “forgotten Americans”

Campaign Tactics:

  • Republican Party: (united party, efficient campaign staff, scheduling, money, newspaper support) Campaigned only in crucial states, major addresses, made use of television to address voters; question-and-answer sessions, appeared statesman like and calm, refused to debate Humphrey. Spoke in general terms about the issues and Vietnam (not to jeopardize Paris negotiations), linked Humphrey to the national unrest/violence/protests
  • Democratic Party:
  • no money, no organization, until Lawrence O’Brien appointed chairman of the Democratic national committee, no campaign schedule
  • Humphrey at first was eight to ten percentage points behind Nixon in the polls, and heckled everywhere he went to speak

Turning Points (General Election):

  • Spiro Agnew was a sharp contrast to Nixon, verbal slips, misinformation and constantly had to issues apologies, retractions, and explanations for his gaffes “APOLOGIZE NOW, SPIRO, IT WILL SAVE TIME LATER.”
  • George Wallace, Nixon’s greatest competition for Southern votes, running also on  integration and law and order, Competition as for Humphrey and mid –western blue-collar workers
  • Wallace’s running mate, Air Force General Curtis LeMay (“Old Ironpants”) outlandish comments, ramblings
  • Humphrey trailed in the polls until September 25 when he broke with Johnson on Vietnam, announcing he support of Vietnam bombing halt; increased anti-war Democrat/liberal support for Humphrey after the announcement; “If you mean it, we’re with you!” signs of support; McCarthy, Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, National board of the Americans for Democratic Action, organized labor endorsed him, and fundraising increased; Humphrey closed in on Nixon at the polls
  • Humphrey became the peace candidate
  • October 25, Nixon accused Johnson of planning a bombing halt to salvage Humphrey’s candidacy
  • October surprise, Johnson announced he was halting bombing in Vietnam a move that tied Humphrey and Nixon at the polls a week before the election.
  • In October, President Lyndon Johnson was attempting to reach an agreement with the North Vietnamese in the Paris peace talks. This would allow him to halt the bombing which would salvage Vice President and Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey’s campaign. The Republican candidate Richard Nixon realized that Johnson was attempting to use the power of the presidency to help Humphrey, and accused him of doing so. Johnson denounced such claims as “ugly and unfair.” However, five days before the election on October 31, President Johnson announced a halt in the bombing of North Vietnam.
  • The bombing halt allowed many people to conclude that the end of the war might be approaching, putting Humphrey in a favorable position. Humphrey went up in the polls, but when the South Vietnamese government indicated it would not negotiate, Humphrey’s ratings again slid.

Popular Campaign Slogans:

Republican:

  • “Vote Like Your Whole World Depended on It”
  • “Nixon’s the One”
  • “He’s Good Enough For me in ‘68”

Democrat:

  • “Humphrey-Muskie, Two You Can Trust”
  •  “Unite with Humphrey”
  • “Two Hearts Beat as One: Elect This Team!”

Campaign Song:

  • Republican: Richard Nixon: “Nixon’s the One” (Moose Charlap and Alvin Cooperman)

Influential Campaign Appeals or Ads:

Republican Party:

  • “Hubert Humphrey defends the policies under which we have seen crime rising ten times as fast as the population. If you want your President to continue with the do-nothing policy toward crime, vote for Humphrey. If you want to fight crime, vote for Nixon.”

Democratic Party:

  • Wallace and LeMay: “bombsy twins”; Nixon “Richard the Silent” and “Richard the Chickenhearted”
  • George Wallace:
  • Anti Democrat: ‘Stop the war! Stop the war!'; ‘Dump the Hump, dump the Hump!'”
  • Pro Democrat: “HECKLERS FOR Humphrey — WE CAME BACK.”

 

Money Spent (Each Campaign/Party/Overall):

Defining Quotation (Winning Candidate):

  • “I saw many signs in this campaign, Some of them were not friendly and some were very friendly. But the one that touched me the most was one that I saw in Deshler, Ohio, at the end of a long day of whistle-stopping — a little town, I suppose five times the population was there in the dusk — but a teen-ager held up a sign, ‘Bring us Together.’ And that will be the great objective of this administration at the outset, to bring the American people together. This will be an open administration, open to new ideas, open to men and women of both parties, open to the critics as well as those who support us. We want to bridge the generation gap. We want to bridge the gap between races. We want to bring America together. . . .” Richard Nixon, Victory Speech
  • “In the last thirty-six hours,” he declared, “I have been advised of a flurry of meetings in the White House and elsewhere on Vietnam. I am told that top officials in the Administration have been driving very hard for an agreement on a bombing halt, accompanied possibly by a cease-fire in the immediate future. I since learned that these reports are true. I am also told that this spurt of activity is a cynical, last-minute attempt by President Johnson to salvage the candidacy of Mr. Humphrey. This I do not believe. ” Richard Nixon, October 25, 1968
  • “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference, between the policies Hubert Humphrey offers America and the policies America has had for the last four years.” Richard Nixon
  • “Hubert Humphrey defends the policies under which we have seen crime rising ten times as fast as the population. If you want your President to continue with the do-nothing policy toward crime, vote for Humphrey. If you want to fight crime, vote for Nixon.” Richard Nixon
  • It is another voice, it is a quiet voice in the tumult of the shouting. It is the voice of the great majority of Americans, the forgotten Americans, the non shouters, the non demonstrators…. They’re good people. They’re decent people; they work and they save and they pay their taxes and they care….  And this I say, this I say to you tonight, is the real voice of America. In this year 1968, this is the message it will broadcast to America and to the world. Richard Nixon Acceptance of the Republican Party Nomination for President, August 8, 1968
  • “The most articulate and the most uncompromising defender of the Johnson Administration.” Richard M. Nixon

Defining Quotation (Losing Candidate):

  • “I have been hoping for months that it would happen, for months.” Hubert Humphrey on Johnson announcement that he was halting bombing in Vietnam
  • “As President, I would stop the bombing of the North as an acceptable risk for peace because I believe it could lead to success in the negotiations and thereby shorten the war.” Hubert Humphrey September 30, Salt Lake City  nationwide telecast
  • “The President has not made me his slave and I am not his humble servant.” Hubert Humphrey
  • “Last year we opened the doors of the Democratic party, as we promised we would, and twenty million Democrats stalked out. For years, I wanted to run for President in the worst possible way — and I’m sure I did!” George McGovern
  • “I am not embarrassed to be George McGovern’s seventh choice for Vice President. We Democrats may be short of money but we’re not short of talent. Pity Mr. Nixon — his first and only choice was Spiro Agnew.” Sargent Shriver

Campaign Quotations:

  • “I have reached this decision on the basis of developments in the Paris talks, and I have reached the belief that this action will lead to progress for a peaceful settlement of the Vietnam War.” President Lyndon Johnson announcing the cessation of bombing on Vietnam, October 31, 1968
  • “The old Democratic coalition was disintegrating, with untold numbers of blue-collar workers responding to Wallace’s blandishments, Negroes threatening to sit out the election, liberals disaffected over the Vietnam War, the South lost. The war chest was almost empty, and the party’s machinery, neglected by Lyndon Johnson, creaked in disrepair.” Time, November 15, 1968
  • “Television is no gimmick, and nobody will ever be elected to major office again without presenting themselves well on it.” Television producer and Nixon campaign consultant Roger Ailes, 1968

Significant Books about the Campaign:

White, Theodore H., The Making of the President 1968.

Lasting Legacy of Campaign:

  • Realigning election; rise of conservatism; end of the Roosevelt/New Deal alignment that commenced in the 1932 election.
  • Effective third party candidate; no other third party since George Wallace has won the electoral votes of a state.

 

CHRONOLOGY

  • July 28, 1965: Johnson escalates the number of troops sent to Vietnam for the upcoming ground war.
  • July 30, 1965: Johnson signs Medicare and Medicaid into law.
  • August 5, 1965: “Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act.”
  • August 11-16, 1965: Watts Riots in Los Angeles
  • June 29, 1967: Prohibition Party Convention nominates E. Harold Munn for President.
  • July 13, 1967: Newark, New Jersey riots.
  • July 23, 1967: Detroit, Michigan riots.
  • October 21, 1967: Anti-war demonstrators March to the Pentagon, want to shut down Pentagon.
  • January 4, 1968: “Governor Rockefeller of New York tells a group of New Hampshire Republicans that the moderates of the party had a rare opportunity to unite behind Gov. George Romney of Michigan as their nominee for President this year.” George Romney a Mormon, is an early front-runner, he claims he “originally supported Johnson’s Vietnam policy because he had been “brainwashed” by government briefing officers.”
  • January 31, 1968: North Vietnamese launch the Tet offensive at Nha Trang. The US embassy in Saigon is invaded and held until 9:15AM.
  • February 2, 1968: Richard Nixon announces he is entering the Republican Presidential nomination race, enters the New Hampshire primary. Since his 1962 defeat for the California governorship, Richard Nixon gains support and friendships with Republican Party leaders, he campaigns in the 1966 mid-term elections for Republican candidates, becoming the front-runner. He wins all the early primaries.
  • February 8, 1968: George Wallace announces he is entering the presidential race as an independent.
  • February 18, 1968: The U.S. State Department announces that 543 Americans have been killed in action, and 2547 have been wounded, highest casualty toll of the war.
  • February 28, 1968: Governor George Romney gives a news conference in Washington to announce his is withdrawing from the Republican Presidential nomination race because of public ridicule, and the public’s fear of his religion.
  • Governor Rockefeller will meet here today with top-ranking Republicans from many parts of the country “to exchange views on the situation in the party” following Gov. George Romney’s withdrawal from the Presidential race.
  • March 12, 1968: New Hampshire primary: Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy almost wins against Johnson in an upset, comes in second with 230 votes less than President Lyndon Johnson. McCarthy enters the race to challenge President Johnson for the nomination; critic of the Vietnam war, with youth support and volunteers; “Children’s Crusade”. His youthful supporter get “Clean for Gene” to contact conservative voters in New Hampshire.
  • March 16, 1968: New York Senator Robert Kennedy enters the Presidential race four days after the New Hampshire primary in opposition to Vietnam and Johnson, but in “in harmony with McCarthy”
  • March 31, 1968: President Lyndon Johnson’s gives a televised address announcing steps to limit the War in Vietnam, and Johnson announces at the end his televised address that he is not seeking reelection.
  • April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
  • April 1968: Riots burst out in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Kansas City, Newark, Washington, D.C. after King’s assassination resulting 46 deaths.
  • April 6, 1968: “Governor Rockefeller and his supporters have been re-emphasizing his availability for the Presidential nomination in the face of the widespread public impression that he is reluctant to run.”  (NYT)
  • April 1968: Ronald Reagan, the conservative candidate does not commit to running beyond a favorite son campaign.
  • ?March 1968: Nelson Rockefeller announces in a press conference he will not run for the Republican Presidential nomination.
  • Rockefeller and Reagan enter the race too late, Nixon accumulates enough delegate support to clinch the nomination on the first ballot
  • Hubert Humphrey decides to enter the race for the nomination “the politics of joy”, he was too late to enter the primaries, but gathers enough delegate support from “behind the scenes”; Johnson helps Humphrey garner the delegates for the nomination
  • May 3, 1968: US and the North Vietnamese agree to peace talks in Paris.
  • May 7, 1968: Socialist Labor Party Convention nominates Henning A. Blomen for President.
  • May 8, 1968: Indiana primary; Senator Robert F. Kennedy wins his first Presidential primary.
  • May 15, 1968: Senator Robert Kennedy wins the Nebraska primary with 60% of Farm Bloc. Kennedy’s advisers said the Nebraska primary results demonstrate that their candidate had the breadth of appeal needed for a national campaign. (NYT)
  • May 23, 1968: Gov. Ronald Reagan drops that ‘ I Am Not a Candidate’ stance on his tour of 7,000 miles through five states over four days.
  • May 28, 1968: Eugene McCarthy wins the crucial Oregon primary.
  • June 1, 1968: “Vice President Humphrey is the clear choice of the nation’s Democratic county chairmen for the 1968 Presidential nomination, according to the Gallup Poll.” (NYT)
  • June 4, 5, 1968: Robert Kennedy wins the California Primary; narrowly defeats Eugene McCarthy 46%–42%. Kennedy addresses supporters at the Ambassador Hotel and is shot by Sirhan Sirhan at 12:13AM when he is leaving the stage.
  • June 6, 1968: Robert F. Kennedy dies from his wounds.
  • July 7, 1968: Communist Party Convention nominates Charlene Mitchell for President.
  • August 5-8, 1968: Republican National Convention convenes at the Convention Center in Miami Beach, Florida and nominates on the 1st ballot Richard M. Nixon (California) for President, and Spiro T. Agnew (Maryland) for Vice President. Nixon wins the nomination on the first ballot against Nelson Rockefeller and Ronald Reagan, and chooses Governor Spiro T. Agnew of Maryland, unknown (“Spiro Who?”) as his running mate to appeal to the border states and Deep South.
  • August 8, 1968: Richard Nixon gives his acceptance of the Republican Party Nomination for President.
  • August 5-8, 1968: Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy’s (president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) the Poor People’s Campaign demonstrates outside the convention hall.
  • August 18, 1968: Peace & Freedom Party Convention nominates Eldridge Cleaver for President.
  • August 28, 1968: Socialist Workers Party Convention nominated Frederick W. Halstead
  • August 26-29, 1968: Democratic National Convention convenes at the International Amphitheatre, in Chicago, Illinois. Carl Albert (Oklahoma) serves as chairman. The convention nominates on the 1st ballot, Hubert Humphrey (Minnesota) for President, and Edmund S. Muskie (Maine) for Vice President. Party leaders supported Hubert Humphrey’s nomination. After Robert Kennedy’s assassination, McCarthy loses interest in the nomination. McCarthy supporters back South Dakota Senator George McGovern; Kennedy supporters want to draft his brother, Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, who did not want to be drafted so soon after his brother’s death. National Mobilization Committee To End the War in Viet Nam, Antiwar protesters at the Chicago conventions.
  • August 28, 1968: Bloody Wednesday, protests outside the convention hall develops in a confrontation with police, and violence erupts.
  • August 26-29, 1968: Divisions between hawks and doves in the party; fights over delegate credentials; fights close to anarchy over procedure and platform votes; walk-outs
  • August 26-29, 1968: There is a debate over the platform and the nomination process, especially the “unit rule” where the majority of the delegates determined the entire vote of a delegation. McCarthy supporters want this century old rule abolished, denies minorities a voice. Humphrey has supported the concept, motion is approved to abolish it. Allowed a few Southern delegations whose credentials are questioned to be seated including voting rights activist and civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer Mississippi Democratic loyalist group.
  • August 28, 1968: Connecticut Senator Abraham Ribicoff is heckled throughout his speech after condemning the Chicago police’s actions against the protesters
  • August 29, 1968: Thursday night, after a Robert Kennedy memorial film is shown, Daley supporters chant, “We love Mayor Daley!” and the delegates on the convention floor sing the “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
  • Republican Party is united and runs an efficient campaign staff, scheduling, money, newspaper support. Nixon campaigns only in crucial states, major addresses, makes use of television to address voters; question-and-answer sessions, appeared statesman like and calm, refuses to debate Humphrey. Spoke in general terms about the issues and Vietnam (not to jeopardize Paris negotiations), links Humphrey to the national unrest/violence/protests
  • September 1, 1968: Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey launches his campaign at New York City’s Labor Day parade.  Democratic Party, no money, no organization, until Lawrence O’Brien appointed chairman of the Democratic national committee, no campaign schedule. Humphrey at first was eight to ten percentage points behind Nixon in the polls, and is heckled everywhere he goes to speak
  • Spiro Agnew is a sharp contrast to Nixon, verbal slips, misinformation and constantly had to issues apologies, retractions, and explanations for his gaffes “APOLOGIZE NOW, SPIRO, IT WILL SAVE TIME LATER.”
  • September 12, 1968: “Gov. Spiro T. Agnew of Maryland took back today his charge that Hubert H. Humphrey was “soft on Communism.” (NYT)
  • September 20, 1968: “With ever more bite and passion, Vice President Humphrey pursues Richard M. Nixon across mid-America today, exhorting his rival to join in direct debate and bitterly accusing him of compromise and evasion on all issues, especially human rights.” (NYT)
  • September 25, 1968:  Humphrey trails in the polls, until he breaks with Johnson on Vietnam, announcing he support of Vietnam bombing halt;
  • September 30, 1968: Hubert Humphrey announces in Salt Lake City in nationwide telecast: “As President, I would stop the bombing of the North as an acceptable risk for peace because I believe it could lead to success in the negotiations and thereby shorten the war.” Increased anti-war Democrat/liberal support for Humphrey after the announcement; “If you mean it, we’re with you!” signs of support.
  • October 3, 1968: George Wallace, independent campaign for the presidency names his running mate at a news conference: “I think most military men think it’s just another weapon in the arsenal… I think there are many times when it would be most efficient to use nuclear weapons. … I don’t believe the world would end if we exploded a nuclear weapon.” George Wallace, Nixon’s greatest competition for Southern votes, running also on  integration and law and order, Competition as for Humphrey and mid –western blue-collar workers Wallace’s running mate, Air Force General Curtis LeMay (“Old Ironpants”) outlandish comments, ramblings
  • October 10, 1968: “Senator Edmund S. Muskie asserts that Richard M. Nixon was unqualified to serve as President because he did not trust the American people to judge a debate between the three national candidates.” (NYT)
  • October 10, 1968: “Vice President Humphrey rides  through the artificial storms of Wall Street confetti and around the turmoil in his New York political organization. All the while he promotes Senator Edmund S. Muskie as his “greatest asset” and maps new ways to force Richard M. Nixon into televised debates.” (NYT)
  • October 13, 1968: “Vice President Humphrey sent telegrams today to Richard M. Nixon and George C. Wallace saying he had reserved an hour’s time on the Columbia Broadcasting system next Sunday from 10 to 11 P.M. for a three-way debate.” (NYT)
  • McCarthy, Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, National board of the Americans for Democratic Action, and organized labor endorses Hubert Humphrey, then Humphrey’s campaign fundraising increases. Humphrey becomes the peace candidate.
  • Humphrey closes in on Nixon at the polls
  • October 14, 1968: “With a new and probably final burst of political energy, Hubert H. Humphrey set out to prove that his campaign was “coming alive” at last and that Richard M. Nixon could still be overtaken in a tight race over the next three weeks.” (NYT)
  • October 23, 1968: “The Columbia Broadcasting System send telegrams to Vice President Humphrey and Richard M. Nixon, inviting them to appear jointly in one-hour debate from 9 to 10 P.M. next Sunday.:
  • October 25, 1968: Nixon accuses Johnson of planning a bombing halt to salvage Humphrey’s candidacy
  • October 26, 1968: “Gov. Spiro T. Agnew tells noisy student hecklers Cupertino, California that if they did not like their country they should get out.” (NYT)
  • October 1968:  President Lyndon Johnson was attempting to reach an agreement with the North Vietnamese in the Paris peace talks. This would allow him to halt the bombing which would salvage Vice President and Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey’s campaign. The Republican candidate Richard Nixon realized that Johnson was attempting to use the power of the presidency to help Humphrey, and accused him of doing so. Johnson denounced such claims as “ugly and unfair.”
  • October 28, 1968: Humphrey misses the signals in the campaign, an observer sees that the Republican Party has a good chance to win, and the Republican are  hopeful for a victory.
  • October 31, 1968: Five days before the election on President Johnson announces a halt in the bombing of North Vietnam, a move that ties Humphrey and Nixon at the polls a week before the election. The bombing halt allows many people to conclude that the end of the war might be approaching, putting Humphrey in a favorable position.
  • Humphrey went up in the polls, but when the South Vietnamese government indicates it will not negotiate, Humphrey’s ratings again slid.
  • November 5, 1968: Election Day, Republicans Richard M. Nixon is elected President and Spiro Agnew is elected Vice President.
  • December 16, 1968: Presidential Electors cast the electoral vote in their state capitols.
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